Port of Virginia news – growth, expansion and congestion.

With the labor issues on the West Coast, the East Coast of the United States saw growth in the first quarter of this year. In fact, the East Coast actually outpaced the West Coast in containerized cargo 48-44 percent, respectively. The remaining 8% went to Gulf ports.

Here in Virginia, we were fortunate enough to see year-on-year growth of thirteen percent from May, 2014, to May, 2015, coming in with a total of 230,511 TEU’s. The 87,455 truck moves represented a nearly 22 percent increase.

While the increase in truck moves is welcome, the cascading effect here is additional congestion and delays in getting cargo turned into and out of the terminals. We as a community are working to find solutions that involve better communication and scheduling. The port is also developing a new pad for container stacking rail-bound containers at the Virginia International Gateway. There are also an additional 1,000 chassis slated for addition to the port pools.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity is that the Port Authority, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have signed an agreement to share the cost of a feasibility study for deepening the harbor. We already have a 50-foot channel, but are looking to dredge to 55 feet.

Ports up and down the East Coast are competing for the potential calls that will accompany the larger vessels that will be able to pass through the Panama Canal when the third set of locks opens in early 2016. The deepest draft ports will allow vessels to arrive and depart fully loaded without having to worry about draft restrictions that could otherwise reduce efficiencies.

Nelson International has a good working relationship with officials here in Norfolk and we are eager participants in bringing more cargo into and out of the Port of Virginia.